Sunday, August 28, 2011

Taste Not to be Railroaded

Ok, that's it.  My husband maybe the most "Pottery Barn" husband around (and the best).  After dinner on Thursday night to celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary, I pulled in the garage to find...THIS!  This beautiful railcar my husband picked up from an antique trader in Redmond. 

 It's actually from the local railroad, and he snatched it up for...get this...$298 and was bummed that he couldn't negotiate them down.

It's absolutely perfect and my son loves that it came off a real railroad.  He plays with the (now sanitized) wheels all day.

The topper?  Yesterday I got the new Restoration Hardware catalog, and featured in it is a replica of a rail cart.  In case you can't read it...that says $1095.  Yes, $1095.  My husband is soooo Pottery Barn!

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

If it looks like Pottery Barn, and is decorated like Pottery Barn...

This is my dining room update.  None of which is actually from Pottery Barn, but I think I copied the look pretty well.

After I picked up my table, I went shopping for chairs and found these sturdy wood chairs and a bench from World Market that almost match.  Then I picked up two antique-looking ivory chairs from Pier1 and finished the new look with three decorative hurricanes.  Here's the before and after.  I think I have definitely "Pottery-Barned" my dining area.
BEFORE: The smoked glass top and white chairs were always getting "little fingerprints" on them.  The furniture was a bit on the contemporary side and the table was too narrow for the space.  The space was so large, the table was always extended, which put the table-legs in the way of the chairs.

AFTER: The distressed wood table will actually get better with time.  The chairs and table are all "kid-friendly".  The table is much larger and wider, filling up the space more appropriately and making room for eight at the table.

The wood tones play up the warmness of the Cherry floors, while the antiqued white chairs brighten the space.  Now I just need to paint the black bar stools antique white to match!

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Cheated on You

I'm sorry Pottery Barn.  I cheated on you. 

For weeks now I've been contemplating buying the Bennett Dining Table listed on Pottery Barn.  It's on sale for $1,099 (plus shipping of $145 and handling of $100).  But then I was at this consignment shop in Bend, Oregon and I saw this table that I'd been eying which was reduced by 50%!  The topper...I had a 20% of coupon which they applied to the price.  So, how could I turn it down?  It was meant to be.

My new table

So now I have to decide on chairs.  I need some help. 

Pier 1 Cross-back Chair

I'm a real cook now

There comes a time in every cooks life when they become official.  They get a KitchenAid mixer.  I got mine last week.  A gift from Father-in-Law sho said my old mixer was not cutting it.  And he would know, since he used it to make us some delicious white chocolate and strawberry mousse last time he was up.

So, in honor of the new mixer, and because I was dying to use it, the first thing I cooked was some homemade banana bread compliments of the recipe book of family recipes given to me by my in-laws.  Here's the recipe in case you were wondering:

Walnut-Bourbon Banana Bread loaves on wire rac...Image via Wikipedia
Banana Bread Made by KitchenAid Mixer


1-1/2C Sugar
3/4C Butter
2 Eggs, separated
4TBL Sour Milk (add 1TSP of Cider Vinegar to 3TSP of Milk to sour)
1TSP Baking Soda
2C Flour
1/2C Chopped Walnuts
3 Ripe Bananas
1TSP Vanilla
1TSP Salt

Cream butter and sugar.  Add egg yolks, sour milk, flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir in bananas and vanilla, Add nuts.  Beat egg whites till light and fluffy and fold into batter.  Pour into greased loaf pans and bake at 350 for approx. 1 hour.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hosting Secrets - Northwest Low Boil

The South has been holding out on us.  It's little-known (at least up North) hosting treat called "low boil", and it's the easiest, most delicious, and mess-free way to host a large amount of people.

Southerners have long hosted low boils, taking advantage of the low summer crawfish prices.  Most often low boil is reserved for community events and fundraisers; the largest and most well-known of these events being the the"Crawfish Festival" held every summer in Louisiana.

Well, our take on low boil is a little different, but just as easy and delicious.  So if you are planning to host a large group, grab the grub and get the pot going.

Northwest Low Boil


Corn on the Cob (husked and broke in half)
Polska Kielbasa (we use Turkey to cut down on the calories and fat)
Large Shrimp (in the shell)
Potatoes (with skin, cut in half)
Cajan Season or Low Boil Seasoning (we use Lawry's, found in the seafood section, NOT the spice section)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Thorn (continued) - This Week's Shame on You List

Jeep Liberty Urban Terrain (not Jogging) stroller by Kolorcraft

I bought this stroller after looking at hundreds of reviews for jogging strollers (and because I couldn't bring myself to invest $500 in a Bob jogger my son will soon outgrow).  My son loves the steering wheel and it looked like a quality product with great reviews for a "jogging stroller".

Well low and behold, the first time I took it out, it started shaking like an anorexic on a caffeine trip.  The thing shook and vibrated so much it was completely useless if I was doing anything more than a power walk.

So I had my husband take a look at the system, pump up the tires, and tighten everything up with no luck.  I decided to call Kolorcraft and ask for advice on how to fix the shake.  Here's how the conversation went:

Her: "What seems to be the problem?"
Me: "The stroller shakes when I use it."
Her: "Well are you jogging with this stroller?" 
Me: "Of course."
Her: "Well, it's not a jogging stroller." (insert tone that makes me seem like a complete loon for asking)
Me: "What do you mean its not a jogging stroller?  Aren't all three-wheelers jogging strollers?"
Her: "No."
Me: "Then what would I use this for?"
Her: "Walking."
Me: "Your kidding."
Her: "No, this is not a jogging stroller.  We suggest you use a jogging stroller."
Me: "Um, thanks for the tip."
Her: "Is there anything else I can help you with?"
Me: "Uh, no."
Her: "Thanks for contacting Kolocraft."
Me: Click.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Rose and the Thorn: This Week's Lust List

Every night at dinner we've started the tradition of saying what our "rose" and "thorn" of the day is.  As a serial pessimist (yes, it's true, sorry!) it's an important for me to both remember the good things in life (the "roses") and also to vent (the "thorn").

In that same spirit, I thought it would be fun to blog about some of the "roses" I found throughout the week--the "Lust List"--and then maybe also some thorns (you know, like bad business). 

So here's this week's Lust List:

1. Italian Recycled Green Glass Plates from Pier 1.  I had a gift certificate for Pier 1 from Christmas that I still hadn't used.  I just couldn't make up my mind, but had been contemplating these recycled glass plates for some time.  I finally broke down and decided to buy them despite the $7/plate price tag.  But guess what? I walked in and they had been reduced to just over $3/plate!  They had sold out of the salad bowls, but oh, well.  I still love the plates, and because I got such a good deal, I decided to buy some accessories, too.

2. Costco Squash Ravioli.  One thing I love about Costco/Sam's Club is that I always seem to find something that inspires me to cook.  During this week's trip, I stumbled upon these refrigerated Squash Ravioli's.  After a long weekend of cooking, I decided to take it easy last night and paired them with browned butter (I know it's so fattening, but I only used 2TBL), walnuts, and fresh Parmesan.  Not only was it pretty grub, but it was so filling; I only ate two raviolis and was stuffed!

3. Pottery Barn Bennett Table.  This one is truly a lust.  I've been wanting a distressed farm table for quite some time.  I look at Pottery Barn and constantly lust.  This week, they have one of my favorite tables--the Bennett Table--on clearance for $1,099 (of course, it's like $249 to ship on the other hand).  So, I have to make the decision between an AirMac Notebook or this table.  I think the computer is going to win, but I'm terribly sad that the table will probably sellout before I can buy one! :(

4.  I always forget to go to, but when I remember, I can't help but look at things for hours.  This week I found a hot pink "Bride" bikini (only $35!) that I'm going to buy for my soon-to-be-sister-in-law's wedding on a cruise ship in November. 

I also found these fabulous drapery panels, but just can't fathom spending $500 on window treatments to cover my huge front-room windows.

5. "O" for Oregon Hydro Flask.  It's good to know the people at Hydro Flask, and it's because I know two of them that I scored the most fabulous water bottle in the world.  I've never been keen on metal bottles...the water gets warm inside, they burn your hands if out in the sun too long...but the Hydro Flask is double-walled and vacuum-sealed so your water stays ice cold for 24-hours and tastes amazing.  The topper: Hydro Flask is local and they make one in an Oregon Duck's design.

Yesterday my husband and I took the stroller up the mile incline of Pilot Butte and he forgot my Hydro Flask in the car.  The only option for water was the water fountain at the top.  It was not a pleasant trip back down for my husband.  I'm very serious about my hydration.

Friday, August 5, 2011

how to make a killer vinaigrette out of practically anything

My family around my Grammy's dinner table the first time she met my son, Noah
 Let it be known that for years I've been trying to figure out how my Grandma makes her killer salad.  Like any good Frenchwoman, she could make a dressing out of practically anything.  And I've sat, I've watched, and I still could never mimic the deliciousness that is her vinaigrette--until this year.

So world, it's time to break out the secret.  Once you know the secret, you too can make dressing out of practically any combination of oil and acidic (vinegar, lemon, etc.).

(Drum roll please)...The key to any killer vinaigrette is garlic salt (I use Lawry's), pepper (from a grinder), and grated Parmesan (the fresh stuff, not the can...please don't insult the salad with the canned stuff).

Douse  your lettuce (be liberal, who cares if you have garlic breath) with a good helping of both, add your oil and your vinager, and "Tah Duh", you have an awesome salad.

Here are some of my favorite combos:

Olive Oil
Fresh Lemon Juice

Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar

Thursday, August 4, 2011

why trail running is better than running

I wanted to take a moment to try to explain just why I'm digging this trail running thing so much.

Granted, this is not the first time I've taken up trail running (I actually ran Cross-Country throughout high school and have been trail running on and off since), but the older I get, the more important some of these things become.

Life's so short...why not enjoy your workout?

Why trail running is better than road running:

  1. Trail running has more shade.  You're going to sweat either way, but do you really need a reason to sweat more?
  2. Trail running is scenic.  Sometimes I'm like, "I'll just run around the neighborhood because it's quicker/faster/easier/closer."  But you know what? I never enjoy it.  But when I trail run, I always see something new and beautiful.  It's a good reminder of why I love where I live.
  3. The ups and downs of the trail are like your own little personal trainer; pushing you to go faster, slower, harder, or higher.  Ever wonder why there are interval workouts on treadmills? It's to try to imitate nature's course.
  4. It is a safer way to take your dog--and more enjoyable for the dog, too.  
  5. There are lots of places to stop and let your dog take a drink of water. These same places also make great rest stops to wet down your bandana or take a cool breather.
That said, there are a few things to think about before starting a trail running routine:
  1. It's more difficult.  Even if you already have an established workout routine, you could likely be sore after a trail run due to the changes in elevation and terrain.  You will definitely feel the burn
  2. Dust boogers are a part of trail of trail running.  I have yet to find a solution to the dust booger conundrum, but am open to suggestions.
  3. Maybe I'm being a little unfair about this one (because, frankly I am guilty of this too), but with so many great mountain biking trails around, why do so many bikers insist on using the heavily-ran trails? There's hardly room for runners and bikers on some of these trails--especially with a trail-biting dog.
  4. Speaking of dog, most Central Oregon trail runners bring Fido along, so expect to be delayed by doggy butt-to-butt meet and greets.
  5. MOSQUITOES.  Seriously, they suck.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

instantaneous bursts of energy

The trail that runs between Benham and Duhnam Fall in Oregon.
I do not live well by schedule.  I like to think that's why over the course of the last four years I have been unsuccessful in sticking to a workout routine.  There comes one moment in every day--and only one--when I feel like working out.  If that moment happened fall between a regularly-scheduled workday, the moment comes and goes.  But now, working from home, I can act on that momentous burst of motivation and get right to it.

So it's been two weeks and I have successfully ran or hiked most days.  Besides being able to act on my instantaneous bursts of energy, I think there's more to my sudden motivation to work out.  I think it's...dare I say...that I love trail run.

Here's what I've figured out about trail running: IF you are able to choose the time, and IF you are able to go when the weather is warm and breezy, and IF you have a beautiful place like Central Oregon to run, and IF you have a great running partner (I have both my sister and my dog), THEN what's not to love?